Monday, August 24, 2009

Actually, Liberals Don’t Believe in Freedom to Dissent Either

From Andrew Breitbart on Real Clear Politics:
John Mackey - the founder, CEO and marketing genius behind Whole Foods - finds himself in an organic, unsustainable mess with his carefully cultivated affluent, liberal customer base after penning an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal titled, “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare.”

For starters, Mr. Mackey opens with a line from known-liberal-allergen Margaret Thatcher that features the dreaded “S” word: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Then he goes on to provide eight sensible free-market solutions gleaned from his company’s well-regarded employee health care program.

Mr. Mackey, a free-market libertarian, is now at the mercy of an unforgiving grass-roots mob intent on destroying his company. More than 25,000 people have signed on to a Whole Foods boycott on Facebook.

“Whole Foods has built its brand with the dollars of deceived progressives,” the online petition reads. “Let them know your money will no longer go to support Whole Foods’ anti-union, anti-health insurance reform, right-wing activities.”

A complementary Web site,, features unintentionally comical video testimonials from aggrieved former customers. The mainstream media have picked up on the story and fanned the flames.
And here is the most perceptive part of the piece.
The success of Whole Foods is largely built on Mr. Mackey’s understanding of the liberal mind. It wants the good life - but with instant absolution for the sin of conspicuous consumption. Whole Foods is marketing at its best. Iconography and slogans throughout the store - not unlike those Barack Obama used to win the presidency - tell the shopper they are saving the planet in large and small ways.

The product is so good even conservatives and skeptics are willing to play along.

But Mr. Mackey missed the key ingredient of modern liberalism: intolerance to the ideas of nonliberals. And this miscalculation may prove to be devastating to his multibillion-dollar business.

Everywhere one looks these days, the intolerance of self-avowed liberals is on display. Especially since Mr. Obama came to power.

The purportedly open-minded and empathic among us who now run everything - save for NASCAR and Nashville - openly wage war against those who dare disagree.

Witness Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi’s joint-penned editorial in USA Today in which the House’s two top Democrats describe those publicly questioning Mr. Obama’s proposed health care system overhaul as “un-American.”

One need not go back too far in the political time machine to recall a time when the same people were claiming that the term “un-American” was being tossed at liberals for opposing the Iraq war, and that Republicans were stifling free speech.

Examples were rarely, if ever, given. It just was. And we were told this was a very, very bad thing.

The Dixie Chicks brilliantly used this sob line to become a Rolling Stone magazine cover staple, a blue-state crossover and an international cause celebre. A chorus line of would-be liberal celebrity martyrs took a similar marketing tack proclaiming McCarthyism was again afoot - as conservative Hollywood kept its collective mouth shut knowing that support for President Bush or the war was an instant career-killer.

Yet amid the cries of “dissent is patriotic” - a phrase seen on the bumper stickers of cars in the Whole Foods parking lot - the antiwar movement grew and grew, unfettered by the war’s supporters or by the party in power.

As the Hollywood Left churned out antiwar film screeds, it was creating a narrative of its victimhood as it victimized Mr. Bush and his administration with the false accusation that dissenters were being persecuted. But now that they are in power, Democrats are brazenly wielding punitive weaponry against dissenting Americans and are using the power of the state to shut up citizens.

The Democratic leadership - and its friends in the mainstream media - seem determined to brand opposition to the president’s legislative agenda as illegitimate, even racist in origin. Individuals and grass-roots organizations are helping the statists’ cause by advocating boycotts and other means of stifling dissent.

The strategy is clear: Intimidate people from speaking up or from attending public protests by telegraphing that anyone can be made a demon for standing up and exercising basic, constitutional rights.
Of course, we need to be clear on one thing: people do have the right to boycott anybody they want to boycott. Any conservative who thinks the public statements of (say) the Dixie Chicks are obnoxious is free, in a capitalist economy, not to buy their CDs.

But people have the right to do all sorts of things that are, in effect, fascist.

All John Mackey did was express an opinion on Obama’s health care proposals. That was “offensive” only to people who get “offended” at hearing opinions they disagree with expressed — even in perfectly civil terms.

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Blogger jimspice said...

I am a liberal and I welcome, even encourage, dissent. There. Disproved your title in one sentence. Now if you were to have said "many liberals" or "most liberals" you may have had a defensible argument. So it goes, more often than not (see, I did it just there), with absolutes.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Billiam said...

Yes, doc. Spice is correct. Statements like 'MANY liberals will use thug tactics and/or play the race card (see SEIU, certain politician's children, Garafolo, Patterson, etc.)against anyone who disagree's with them. I really don't like to agree with Spice, but this time I have to. Man, that's twice now. I agreed with him at the National Conversation once.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Matt Wion said...


I think you have misleading and false stereotypes of liberals.

That said I - a liberal and a supporter of a strong public option in health care reform - agree with you that this boycott is rather absurd. I can't imagine it is remotely sound to boycott a company because its founder has free-market views about health insurance.

I really don't care what John Mackie thinks about health care reform or unions. I happen to think quite differently than he does. But so what? Is that really grounds for a boycott? I don't thin so.

I don't shop much at Whole foods. One cannot afford to a a graduate student budget. But I don't see the point of a boycott, I think it is misguided.

So despite my objections about your conception of "liberals," I agree with you that the boycott is rather foolish.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...

Back in 2008, this Whole Foods, CEO John Mackey (how old is this kid?), was caught posting negative comments (trash talk) about a competitor on Yahoo Finance message boards in an effort to push down the stock price. So now I am suppose to take this loser seriously? Please, snore, snore.

It’s funny we hear Republicans say that they do not want “faceless bureaucrats” making medical decisions but they have no problem with “private sector” “faceless bureaucrats” daily declining medical coverage and financially ruining good hard working people (honestly where can they go with a pre-condition). And who says that the “private sector” is always right, do we forget failures like Long-Term Capital, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Enron, Tyco, AIG and Lehman Brothers. Of course the federal government will destroy heathcare by getting involved, Oh but wait, Medicare and Medicaid and our military men and women and the Senate and Congress get the best heathcare in the world, and oh, that’s right, its run by our federal government. I can understand why some may think that the federal government will fail, if you look at the past eight years as a current history, with failures like the financial meltdown and Katrina but the facts is they can and if we support them they will succeed.

How does shouting down to stop the conversation of the healthcare debate at town hall meetings, endears them to anyone. Especially when the organizations that are telling them where to go and what to do and say are Republicans political operatives, not real grassroots. How does shouting someone down or chasing them out like a “lynch mob” advanced the debate, it does not. So I think the American people will see through all of this and know, like the teabagger, the birthers, these lynch mobs types AKA “screamers” are just the same, people who have to resort to these tactics because they have no leadership to articulate what they real want. It’s easy to pickup a bus load of people who hate, and that’s all I been seeing, they hate and can’t debate. Too bad.

11:46 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

OK, Guys, point taken.

Of course not all liberals are intolerant of dissent.

The problem is that intolerance is now a mainstream part of the liberal culture.

There was a time when intolerance was what distinguished "liberals" from "radicals." Unfortunately, it doesn't any more. Of course, some self-proclaimed "radicals" are tolerant. It's just that a self-proclaimed "liberal" is not necessarily -- and increasingly not even likely -- tolerant.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Billiam said...

Doc, mine was meant in a snarky way. I should have added the words 'are acceptable' to the end of my sentence on Statements. My appologies. Although, that last bit was correct. I DID actually agree with Spice once. Once.. ;-)

1:00 PM  

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